Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is still a major cause of neonatal death and disability as therapeutic hypothermia (TH) alone cannot afford sufficient neuroprotection. The present study investigated whether ventilation with molecular hydrogen (2.1% H2) or graded restoration of normocapnia with CO2 for 4 h after asphyxia would augment the neuroprotective effect of TH in a subacute (48 h) HIE piglet model. Piglets were randomized to untreated naïve, control-normothermia, asphyxia-normothermia (20-min 4%O2-20%CO2 ventilation; Tcore = 38.5 °C), asphyxia-hypothermia (A-HT, Tcore = 33.5 °C, 2-36 h post-asphyxia), A-HT + H2, or A-HT + CO2 treatment groups. Asphyxia elicited severe hypoxia (pO2 = 19 ± 5 mmHg) and mixed acidosis (pH = 6.79 ± 0.10). HIE development was confirmed by altered cerebral electrical activity and neuropathology. TH was significantly neuroprotective in the caudate nucleus but demonstrated virtually no such effect in the hippocampus. The mRNA levels of apoptosis-inducing factor and caspase-3 showed a ~10-fold increase in the A-HT group compared to naïve animals in the hippocampus but not in the caudate nucleus coinciding with the region-specific neuroprotective effect of TH. H2 or CO2 did not augment TH-induced neuroprotection in any brain areas; rather, CO2 even abolished the neuroprotective effect of TH in the caudate nucleus. In conclusion, the present findings do not support the use of these medical gases to supplement TH in HIE management.
||International Journal of Molecular Sciences